Live like a Parisian during your stay
Breaking out of tourist mode is tough in any city, but dig a bit deeper and you'll find another layer of experiences where you can sample life as a local. In a place so attuned to the senses as Paris, there are myriad ways to leave the tourist trail behind and set out on the path to Frenchness. Wine, gastronomy, perfume, art, dance -- all offer the potential to get under the skin of the city.
Join the revelry
There's nothing to plunge you into the heart of Frenchness so quickly and colorfully as one of Paris's salons (fairs). Open to anyone and everyone, these energetic events involve outrageous displays, food and wine, and loads of fun. The Salon International de l'Agriculture (Feb. 24 - Mar. 4, 2018) celebrates the legendary bounty of France. You can slurp oysters from Normandy or caress a prize Holstein cow, but most of all you'll be elbow to elbow with the French -- and you may even glimpse the president, who traditionally makes an appearance every year.
Mingle with winemakers
At the entrance to the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants (Nov. 30 - Dec. 4, 2017) you'll get a glass, a floor plan and entrée into a teeming microcosm of France according to wine. Hundreds of winemakers are on hand to pour, discuss and ship their wines. Prices are below retail.
Enter a world of chocolate
The world's biggest event of its kind, the Salon du Chocolat (Oct. 28 --Nov. 1) assembles France's, and the world's, great chocolatiers for a celebration of all things chocolate, from beer to fashion.
Enjoy a 'wine concert'
Depending on your time and budget, some of Paris's better cavistes offer wine experiences that range from a free tasting, an afternoon class or evening "wine concert," to a blowout three-star meal with pairings. They're a great way to enjoy fine wines and learn something too. Legrand Filles et Fils' online calendar offers regional discovery classes (Bordeaux, Champagne, Cognac, etc.), courses on the joys of wine and cheese pairing, and a series of two-hour tastings with titles like "Small Regions, Big Wines" or "Pierce the Secrets of Wine." One Thursday a month you can listen to music while tasting wines from the vigneron du jour. Stylish new Caves du Louvre, set in the old royal cellars, offers a series of bilingual wine events every day of the week for all levels of appreciation, plus a winemaking class to create your very own cuvée to take home and wow your friends.
Spend Mondays at Le Bristol
For a more rarified event, Wine Mondays at Le Bristol Paris invites a distinguished winemaker to personally present his or her nectars around a menu specially created for the event by the hotel's three-Michelin-star chef Eric Frechon (€140).
Dine at La Pagode de Cos restaurant
A few blocks away, La Réserve's elegant La Pagode de Cos restaurant hosts a four-course meal created by two-star chef Jérôme Banctel around the wines of a visiting vigneron (€130).
Experience a meal 'chez nous'
By far Parisians' favorite social pastime, dining at home among friends is not usually an option for tourists. But you can live the fantasy for an evening with Vizeat's social-eating experiences in any neighborhood and at a price range that suits your budget.
Get the most out of museums
Visitors may not know that many of Paris's major museums and cultural centers offer art workshops, performances and concerts for individuals of all ages as well as families. No worries if your French is basic or defunct, ateliers are hands-on and musical events require only ears. The Musée d'Orsay's lunchtime (12:30 p.m.) and evening concerts correspond with current exhibitions to illuminate cross-disciplinary influences. On the French website (not all events are listed on the site in English), a list of shows for Fall 2017 includes a dance recital animating a Degas painting and a recreation of the dances of Isadora Duncan to live music. At the Palais de Tokyo, families can participate in creative hands-on workshops or just drop off the kids for two hours of fun with their Parisian counterparts while adults explore the collection.
Experience the rhythms of Le Centquatre
Dance, theater, circus, magic, yoga, art workshops, cinema, you name it, there's something happening every day at the soaring contemporary arts space Le Centquatre, near Parc de la Villette, open to visitors of every age. An on-site restaurant, café and vintage boutique make it easy to spend the day, or evening, when neighbors, resident artists, kids, anyone, can dance. Check the schedule to see what's playing -- it might be a DJ or any genre of live music, from chanson to electro.
Join the artists
What are Paris's artists up to? Every May in Belleville (Paris's 20e arrondissement) more than 250 artists open their studios to the public in their annual Portes Ouvertes. For decades a refuge for artists and designers, Montreuil's citywide extravaganza celebrates the 850 painters, sculptors, video artists, jewelry makers, fashion designers and ceramicists who open their studios to the public. This much-anticipated event (Oct. 13 - 16, 2017) draws thousands of art lovers from in and around Paris. (Montreuil is easily reachable by Paris metro line 9, direction Mairie de Montreuil.)
Dance with natives
Care to tango the night away on the banks of the Seine? From June through September, Tango Argentin hosts hugely popular free tango, rock and cha-cha nights every weekend (3 p.m.-midnight) and weekdays (7 p.m.- midnight) at Paris's quayside Jardin Tino Rossi. The first hour is a lesson and thereafter you're on your own to dance the night away, sometimes to live music, among passionate amateurs. In winter, three-hour introductory classes teach you the tango basics hands-on (€40). Beginners welcome. You can learn to dance like Beyoncé or discover how Parisians stay famously svelte at Éléphant Paname's Hip Hop, Bollywood, Oriental or classical ballet courses. Pilates, yoga and much more are offered. Classes are held every day and are open to everyone. You can also catch a recital or performance and grab a healthy bite at Café EP.
Create your own scent
What could be more Parisian than concocting your own personal fragrance at a legendary perfumer? Guerlain's opulent Champs-Élysées flagship (shown above) hosts a series of comprehensive workshops (10 a.m., 3:30 p.m.; €130, 2.5 hrs) in their beautiful atelier to design a perfume that speaks eloquently to and for you. At the new Le Grand Musée du Parfum, workshops for adults (€95) and kids (€45) help you understand the art of perfumery or refine your sense of smell while creating your own fragrance. Classes are in French but are easy to follow if you have a basic understanding of perfume terminology.
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